Canada thumps Jamaica 9-0 to advance to semifinals of CONCACAF Olympic qualifier

EDINBURG, Texas — Teenager Jordyn Huitema scored five goals and Janine Beckie added three more as Canada hammered Jamaica 9-0 Saturday to qualify for the semifinals of the CONCACAF Women’s Olympic Qualifying Championship with one group game remaining.

Eighth-ranked Canada dominated the match with No. 51 Jamaica stuck in defence and unable to mount an attack.

Christine Sinclair, who become the world’s all-time leading goal-scorer with goals No. 184 and No. 185 in Wednesday’s 11-0 romp over St. Kitts and Nevis, watched from the bench as coach Kenneth Heiner-Moller — knowing his squad faces a possible five games in 12 days — rotated his roster.

The Canadian women’s record for goals in a game is eight by Silvana Burtini in 1998. Burtini also had five in 1994. Huitema is the only other Canadian player to score five in a game.

Deanne Rose also scored for Canada (2-0-0). Beckie, who plays her club soccer for Manchester City, tormented the Jamaicans down the wing and combined with Huitema to threaten throughout the contest.

The 18-year-old Huitema, who plays for Paris Saint-Germain, has five goals in two games at the tournament — upping her international total to 10 in 27 appearances.

The win may have come at a cost with influential midfielder Ashley Lawrence, Canada’s female player of the year in 2019, limping off the field in the 69th minute. Lawrence was at the end of several harsh Jamaica challenges in the game.

It was another sparse crowd of 2,010 at the 9,700-seat H-E-B Park where No. 26 Mexico beat No. 127 St. Kitts and Nevis 6-0 in the early game.

The Canadians wrap up round-round play Tuesday against Mexico (2-0-0) with first place in Group B on the line. That’s important because the group leader will likely avoid the top-ranked Americans in the tournament semifinals at Carson, Calif.

The U.S. plays Costa Rica on Monday to determine the Group A winner.

The top two teams in each group advance to the final four, with the first-place team facing the runner-up in the other pool. The semifinal winners will represent CONCACAF, which covers North and Central America and the Caribbean, in the 12-team field at this summer’s Tokyo Olympics.

Canada has finished runner-up to the Americans in the last three Olympic qualifiers.

The Canadian women have an 19-7 edge over the Mexicans in goal difference so they hold a considerable advantage in the tiebreaker.

History is also on the Canadians’ side. Canada is 21-1-2 all-time against Mexico and is unbeaten in its last 13 meetings (11-0-2). The one loss — a 2-1 decision in March 2004 — was a costly one, however, denying the Canadian women a trip to the 2004 Olympics.

Desiree Scott, on the occasion of her 150th cap, captained Canada in Sinclair’s absence. It marked the third start as skipper for the 32-year-old holding midfielder from Winnipeg, who becomes the fifth Canadian to achieve the 150-cap milestone (joining Sinclair, Diana Matheson, Sophie Schmidt and the retired Rhian Wilkinson).

Heiner-Moller made five other changes to his starting lineup, introducing goalkeeper Stephanie Labbe, defender Allysha Chapman and forwards Rose, Huitema and Beckie.

The Canadian starting 11 came into the game with a combined 859 caps and featured players from Paris Saint-Germain (2), Lyon, Manchester City, the NWSL (5) and NCAA (2).

Jamaica captain and star striker Khadija (Bunny) Shaw was in the lineup despite a hospital visit after a clash of heads with a Mexican defender in the Reggae Girz’s 1-0 loss Wednesday. Shaw, who plays in France for Girondins de Bordeaux, was back Thursday but trained on her own.

The Reggae Girlz, coached by Canadian-born Hubert Busby Jr., were coming off a midweek 1-0 loss to Mexico.

Huitema opened the scoring in the 10th minute, banging the ball in after a goalmouth scramble that saw two Beckie shots bounce off defenders before the ball came back to the PSG teen to bang the ball past goalkeeper Sydney Schneider.

An onrushing Rose managed to contort her torso to deflect in an exquisite Beckie cross in the 16th minute to double the Canadian lead.

Schneider made a fine diving save to deny Schmidt in the 43rd minute after some good buildup by Beckie and Huitema. But the Jamaica ‘keeper had no chance in the 44th minute when her defence was caught short and Huitema slipped the ball over to an unmarked Beckie to knock the ball in.

A deflection off a Jamaican player sent the ball Beckie’s way and the Canadian forward outran the defence before calmly beating Schneider in the 51st minute. Four minutes later, Rose outmuscled a defender and sent a cross over to the five-foot-11 Huitema, who rose above her marker to head it in for a 5-0 lead.

Beckie, with a silky smooth touch to control a long ball from a teammate, then fed Huitema in front for goal No. 6 in the 62nd minute. Four minutes later, Beckie got her own hat trick as Rose squared the ballback to the onrushing Man City player.

An unmarked Huitema got her fourth in the 81st minute with a simple header from a Schmidt flick-on from an Adriana Leon corner. And the fifth goal came in stoppage time as the Jamaican ‘keeper went on a walkabout and Rose found Huitema unmarked in front of goal.

Canada improved its record against Jamaica to 8-0-0, outscoring the Reggae Girlz 57-1.

Jamaica took part in the World Cup for the first time last summer, exiting after first-round losses to Brazil, Italy and Australia. It qualified for the World Cup via a penalty shootout win over Panama to finish third in CONCACAF qualifying behind the U.S. and Canada.

Earlier Saturday, four Canadian-based players started for St. Kitts including 14-year-old Kayla Uddenberg and her 17-year-old sister Cloey. Another sister, 19-year-old Carley, came off the bench in the second half.

Given Mexico led 3-0 after nine minutes, St. Kitts may see some positives in its second-ever game at the CONCACAF qualifier despite the result.

St. Kitts has been outshot 68-6 (42-5 in shots on target) over its two games here.

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